A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration must provide mental health services to the thousands of families it cruelly ripped apart under the inhumane “zero tolerance” policy, ruling the U.S. “could be held accountable for the enduring psychological harm brought about by forcibly taking children from their parents at the border with no guarantee of when or how they would be reunited,” The New York Times reports.
Judge John Kronstadt of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles “referred to previous federal cases that found that governments can be held liable when with ‘deliberate indifference’ they place people in dangerous situations,” The Times continued, and said that the U.S. must “arrange mental health screenings along with psychological counseling and other services, perhaps long term.”
”Deliberate indifference” is right. Officials stole nearly 3,000 children under the 2018 policy, deporting hundreds of parents and leaving their kids to languish under U.S. watch. Further investigation found that officials had actually been separating families as far back as 2017. Just how many were stolen remained unknown until recently, when officials were forced under court order to provide a full accounting. A final tally has found that the U.S. stole nearly 5,500 kids in total.
While the judge’s ruling is welcome news for these families, it’s also the least that can be done for them. Full accountability would mean that the group of moms and kids who filed a lawsuit against the U.S. seeking damages for the lifelong, “extraordinary trauma” inflicted on their families win their case. Full accountability means that the legislation that would put affected families onto a path to citizenship gets passed. Full accountability means that those who carried out this policy are brought to justice.
Nevertheless, legal experts are calling the judge’s ruling “truly groundbreaking.” Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said that “The court is recognizing that when a government creates a danger that inflicts trauma, the government is responsible for providing a solution. It is not something I have seen a court do before.”